By Anna Grace Usery
Lafayette County School District Superintendent Adam Pugh said during a specially called board meeting June 25 that he expects county schools to have a traditional start combined with virtual instruction (if needed) for the fall. However, school officials are still looking at all options and say the safety of the students is of utmost importance.
Based on a survey sent out to parents earlier this month, 50% said they preferred a traditional opening, 30% prefer a hybrid model and 17% prefer strictly virtual.
Cindy Cannon, the executive secretary in the district office, said the hybrid model could be that some students come Monday and Wednesday and others come Tuesday and Thursday. Friday could be designated as a make-up day.
A traditional start would mean school opens Aug. 7 as normally planned with in-person instruction, ensuring increased safety measures in hygiene and social distancing.
While Pugh said no official plans have been made, he wants the community to know that guidelines are changing daily.
“We are trying to do everything we can, to have plenty of hand sanitizer, soap, masks so that when we get started back to keep kids as safe as we can,” he said. “We feel like the best thing to do is a traditional start.”
Pugh said 150 gallons of hand sanitizer have been purchased for the schools, and that he is currently looking for more. There are 30 mobile stands that will dispense the sanitizer, and Pugh said he wants to make sure teachers have bottles of sanitizer in the classroom. Hydroelectric backpack sprayers will be used to sanitize student belongings, and classrooms and hallways will be sprayed at the end of each school day.
Pugh said the school district has acquired 10,500 masks and is requesting 30,000 more for students upon their return. No details were given about how many each child would receive or how often they will be given out.
While wearing masks in transition (changing classes) is required, they will not be required while social distancing in the classroom. If a student chooses to bring his or her own mask, it must be a solid color with no writing, Pugh said.
Judith Thompson, president of the board, asked Pugh if keeping children six feet apart in the classroom is possible.
“We’re going to try to,” Pugh said.
Pugh said the school district will meet the needs of parents who say they are not sending their children directly back to school in the fall. He said the district received 540 Chromebooks last week and they are waiting on 150 more to arrive. Pre-K students could receive tablets while the rest of the students will get Chromebooks.
“We are going to be able to put a device in every child’s hand,” Pugh said.
They are currently brainstorming how to make sure each student has access to Wi-Fi while at home, and potentially on busses.
“In college, it’s their responsibility to find Internet access. In K-12, I think it’s our responsibility to help them get that,” Pugh said.
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